Board Buzzwords E-L

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economic mobility

the ability of someone to change their income or wealth measured over generations during one’s lifetime. Rising costs of education often prohibit mobility, a form of structural inequality. The biggest block to mobility is widening income inequality. Worldwide data is also available. Upward mobility has been declining in the US since the 1940s. 

educational deserts

a concept highlighting the importance of geography in shaping the educational equity and opportunity available to place-bound students typically in rural areas where access to educational opportunity is limited. 

Education Commission of the States

an interstate compact on education policy which partners with education policy leaders to address issues by sharing resources and expertise. Education Commission of the States supports all 50 states and four territories – the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Each state appoints seven commissioners who help guide our work and their own state’s education agendas; territorial appointments vary. Commissioners also have the authority to approve amendments to bylaws and provide strategic information to our staff regarding state education policy issues. 


A learning system based on formalized teaching but with the help of electronic resources is known as E-learning.


specifically means freedom from bias or favoritism. In terms of education, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) defines two dimensions of equity in education: (1) personal and social circumstances do not prevent students from achieving their academic potential. (2) inclusion, which means setting a basic minimum standard for education that is shared by all students regardless of background, personal characteristics, or location. Equity efforts in higher education to close the gaps in higher education attainment by income, race, access, equal opportunity, etc. include  Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States.   Educational boards play a critical role in helping organizations understand the context in which they work and how best to prioritize resources and strategies based on that reality.

equity audit

an internal review of institutional practices (admissions, faculty and staff diversity, financial aid processes, etc.) in the context of equity. Some in higher education are calling for educational institutions to develop processes such as an audit to identify gaps by race, ethnicity, income, gender, disabilities, national origin, etc.


emphasizes institutional responsibility to create equity and enable practitioners to focus on what they can to close equity gaps. (See equity and equity audit above.)

executive session

a closed discussion by board members Boards must make a motion to go into executive session, and it needs a second and a majority vote to adopt. All nonmembers must leave the room until the board again votes to end the executive session.  Minutes (a record only of actions taken, not discussion that occurred) may be taken, but they are not reported. Executive sessions are a useful tool to discuss personal and personnel matters among other sensitive topics. 

exit strategy (for college leadership)

a strategy for leaving an institution. Many college presidents and other senior leadership develop innovative, thoughtful ways for leaving their colleges. See succession planning below.
experiential learning: learning through experience, learn by doing and reflecting on doing; assumes a more active role by the learner. Internships and service learning are forms of experiential learning.


Applied to all educational institutions that received federal funds, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy ACT is federal law designed to protect the privacy rights of student educational records.
financial literacy: calls to more thoroughly educate students about their finances and for colleges to be more transparent about college costs and debt. Some colleges are requiring financial literacy courses.  Similar requirements are also being suggested for high schoolers.

first generation students

children of parents who have not attended college. Technically the term used to mean students whose parents and/or legal guardian have not completed a bachelor’s degree.  First generation students often face obstacles such as college readiness, racial disparity, college assimilation, financial challenges, etc. 

flipped classroom

An inversion of traditional classroom instruction, the flipped classroom is a teaching strategy that put course lecture material and instruction online (via video and other media) for individual and classroom discourse and uses the actual face-to-face classroom for activities, labs and collaborative troubleshooting or what was typically considered homework. Teachers become facilitators and “guides” on the side rather than “sages on the stage” while learners engage in a variety of learning activities and group work.  Many educators see both the pros and cons of the flipped classroom and its reliance on technology which can bring up an access issue for some students without home technologies. 

food insecurity

lack of consistent access to enough food for an active healthy life. Research shows that just under 40% of college students are experiencing hunger and lack stable housing.  In 2017, ACCT published Hungry and Homeless in College: Results from a National Study of Basic Needs Insecurity in Higher Education. 

free college

publicly funded college costs. (See College Promise


Full-time equivalent students is one of the key indices of measuring enrollment in colleges and universities. An FTE denotes the number of credits a full-time student would take, typically 15 credits per semester or per quarter; it also denotes a compilation of the number of credits part-time students take that are equivalent to those of a full-time student. Full-time equivalent students is one of the key metrics for measuring enrollment in colleges and universities. 

gainful employment

Regulations that will hold career training programs accountable for putting their   students on the path to success, and which complement action across the U.S. Administration to protect consumers and prevent and investigate fraud, waste and abuse, particularly at for-profit colleges, has been recently rescinded by the Department of Education.  Colleges affected by these new regulations were required to meet and report on debt-to-income rates. The so-called gainful employment regulations required that a typical graduate of a career college (mostly for-profit schools) – or school that trains students specifically for employment — get a job that makes them enough money to pay back their loans to keep their alma mater eligible for federal financial aid funding. Specifically, a typical graduate’s annual loan payments need to be less than 8% of their earnings or less than 20% of their discretionary income. Programs that don’t meet these requirements would be at risk of losing their federal financial aid funding.


describes the process of applying game-related principles to non-game contexts such as education. Using characteristics of gaming, educators are designing recruitment, enrollment, learning spaces and learning strategies  to provide students with engaging educational experiences based on stimulation and immediate feedback.  Gamification takes elements of game play and adds them to a non-game activity or educational experience.

gateway or gatekeeper courses

Usually at the beginning of a sequence of required courses for a degree or certificate. These are often essential,  “must-pass” credit courses so that students can continue on in their studies in a particular field or degree program. A gatekeeper course is the first or lowest-level college-level course students take in a subject such as math, reading or writing. Most certificate, degree and transfer programs require students to pass gatekeeper courses in one or more subjects. Common examples include English 101 and college-level math for both associate and baccalaureate degrees.  

Gen Z

Born between 1995 and 2012, Gen Z numbers close to 74 million with various levels of education. They are an age group that were digital pioneers and grew up knowing the internet; they do not remember a time when they were not connected with wi-fi or were without personal digital devices.


tenacity, willingness to stick it out, work through and continue to achieve and solve problems; currently identified as a personality trait that students and workers need to achieve their goals and solve problems.

guided pathways

The  Guided Pathways Project  model is based on coherent and easy-to-follow college-level programs of study that are aligned with requirements for success in employment and at the next stage of education. Programs, support services, and instructional approaches are redesigned and re-aligned to help students clarify their goals, choose and enter pathways that will achieve those goals, stay on those pathways, and master knowledge and skills that will enable them to advance in the labor market and successfully pursue further education.


Historically Black Colleges and Universities

higher education divide

currently states the growing racial and economic stratification between two- and four- year colleges.

homework gap

terms which refers to the estimated percentage of U.S. students who do not have access to computers at home or home access to broadband internet. This gap is part of what is called the digital divide. (see above) 


Hispanic Serving Institutions


Institute of Educational Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education, established by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to expand knowledge and provide information on the condition of education, practices that improve academic achievement, and the effectiveness of federal and other education programs. Its goal is the transformation of education into an evidence-based field in which decisionmakers routinely seek out the best available research and data before adopting programs or practices that will affect significant numbers of students.

impact investing for education

Education impact investing benefits both investors and investees. To prepare undereducated and underprepared students to be ready for the 21st-century workforce, foundations like Lumina and Kresge are promoting impact investment in education, from K-12 to postsecondary. Education impact investment allows foundations more control over investment outcomes.


means that all people, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or health care needs, have the right to: be respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities, participate in recreational activities in neighborhood settings; work at jobs in the community that pay a competitive wage, and have careers that use their capacities to the fullest and attend general education classes with peers from preschool through college and continuing education.  (See “diversity” above.)

inclusive access

Inclusive access provides e-texts and online course materials as part of a student’s registration process. All students have access to materials prior to the first day of class. It is a cost-saving strategy  by some textbook businesses to save students money and is growing quickly around the country as a digital model for college textbooks.

inequity gap

means improving the funding of the community colleges with so many low-income students  

implicit bias

Research indicates an increased probably of seeing disruptive behavior in black children; other works confirms racial biases in teacher expectations.


Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducts and communicates research to inspire public dialogue, shape policy, and improve the lives and opportunities of women of diverse backgrounds, circumstances, and experiences. IWPR is a leading think tank in the United States applying quantitative and qualitative analysis of public policy through a gendered lens. IWPR advances women’s status through social science research, policy analysis, and public education and  develops new policy ideas, encourages public debate, and promotes policy and program development. 

Integrative learning

an approach to learning, which develops the ability to think broadly and connect ideas across disciplines and to the outside world, it is being used in general education curricula. Integrative learning is the process of making connections among concepts and experiences so that information and skills can be applied to novel and complex issues or challenges. 

integration course

is a comprehensive way of studying multiple components of language, culture, legal system, politics from a number of perspectives: how people live and interact, and the values on which a society is based. Whether a person may take an integration course or, in some cases, is required to do so, depends on their country of origin and level of fluency in a new society.  Integration courses are directed to asylum seekers and immigrants and include a language course and an orientation course. 


the position of a student or trainee who works in an organization, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification.  (See co-op)
intrusive advising

is planned advising for students, making sure that the advising is not cursory and that students get the information that they need to excel. Whether going into the classroom, scheduling appointments with students, or making referrals to students who do not attend, academic advisors make deliberate efforts to assure that students are on track to meet their goals.

IoT – Internet of Things

Refers to the connectedness of devices based on placement of sensors into appliances and other “smart” places. Issues surrounding IoT include privacy issues. More and more IoT is being touted for its communications opportunities. 


Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. The system is managed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and provides publicly available data on all postsecondary institutions which participate in federal student financial aid programs.

knowledge economy

A key concept of the knowledge economy is that knowledge and education (often referred to as human capital) can be treated as a business product, as educational and innovative intellectual products and services can be exported for a high value return. The knowledge economy is a system of consumption and production based on intellectual capital. The knowledge economy commonly makes up a large share of all economic activity in developed countries. In a knowledge economy, a significant part of a company's value may consist of intangible assets, such as the value of its workers' knowledge (intellectual capital), but generally accepted accounting principles do not allow companies to include these assets on balance  sheets. The initial foundation for the knowledge economy was introduced in 1966 in the book The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker in which Drucker described the difference between the manual worker and the knowledge worker. The term was popularized by Peter Drucker as the title of Chapter 12 in his book, The Age of Discontinuity.

League for Innovation in the Community College

is an international nonprofit organization with a mission to cultivate innovation in the community college environment. Its vision is to serve as a catalyst for introducing and sustaining deep, transformational innovation within and across colleges and international borders to increase student success and institutional excellence.

(the) Learner Revolution

represents a paradigm shift from degree programs to new skills and competencies in making judgements about a learner’s qualifications; where traditional and nontraditional students have more control over how, when and where they learn. Retention, graduation and student success are now a shared responsibility between learners and institutions.. Colleges must listen to what prospective students want as workers become more interested in acquiring skills rather than degrees.  Learners may gain their competencies from a variety of sources and work experiences.   The “Learner Revolution” represents an exhilarating, yet daunting deconstruction of the degree as we know it: a world where a learner will not be tethered to one institution for their degree, where in fact, earning a whole degree will be only one option on a success-focused learner’s menu. Changes coming may be a move away from the degree and the credit-hour standard for eligibility for federal aid programs. Reimagining admissions requirements is part of this shift.

Learning Management System (LMS)

software for the administration, documentation, tracking and reporting and delivery of educational programs;  helps manage administration, tracking, reporting and delivering of courses, lessons and tests. Learning management systems were designed to identify training and learning gaps, utilizing analytical data and reporting.